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Birth and Breastfeeding Goddess Christmas Ornaments!

October 2015 108I am beyond excited to share these with you! We are offering birth, breastfeeding, and goddess ornaments for your holiday celebrations this year! Perfect for nursing mothers, pregnant women, doulas, midwives, as well as for goddessy women in any stage of life, these ornaments are offered in four of our classic designs and in one mini-design. Each ornament is individually hand cast in clear casting resin from our original sculptures. Their beautiful translucency gives them the appearance of being glass or crystal, while still being extremely durable and nearly damage-proof (we have four energetic kids, so our products get a lot of serious product testing to make sure they can hold up to being dropped!).

Each ornament is about 3 inches tall and is $15. The mini goddesses are only an inch tall and are $6. Each is freestanding and can also sit on a mantle or table, or can grace your tree with abundance, empowerment, and bountiful blessings throughout the season!

These are extremely limited edition. We will be making them by hand from November 1-December 5th only. After that, they’re gone!

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Happy Halloween!

pumpkingoddessesHaving a one day old baby last year on Halloween eclipsed my years-long blog tradition of making a Halloween-themed blog post. I was taking a walk down memory lane reading older Halloween blog posts today and gathered them together into a new mini-post. A constant in the pictures for each is my Halloween troll pin. It was a part of my massive troll collection as a kid and I wear it every year! (I have two of them, so that’s why the hair color is sometimes different from year to year!)

In 2010, I was Scully: Happy Halloween! | Talk Birth

In 2011, their skeleton sweatshirts were new (Tanner now wears Alaina’s and Alaina wears Lann’s original from 2006): Happy Halloween! | Talk Birth

In 2012, I was Luke Skywalker wearing Yoda on my back: Happy Halloween! | Talk Birth

2013 was significantly more adventurous and involved wearing a gypsypriestess costume to Sirloin Stockade while wrangling five kids through the buffet by myself. It also involved some fabulous kid-quotes:

Let’s go to another park and continue this torturefest.” (as we were leaving the wet, cold, stormy park after homeschool playgroup)

And… “I guess this is the ‘trick’ part of the day.” (as we staggered to our various destinations)

Source: Happy Halloween! | Talk Birth

This year I dressed up as a sort of elf-priestess for my parents’ Halloween party:

October 2015 072And, as already shared in other posts this week, the boys went as Freddy and Bonnie from the computer game Five Nights at Freddy’s.

October 2015 037Tanner was an epic tiny Draco Malfoy:

October 2015 070Alaina went as a “nursing mama witch” to my parents’ party and as Bellatrix Lestrange to the playgroup Halloween party and to Trunk or Treat:

October 2015 038IMG_8839We love going to Trunk or Treat at the University, because the students always recognize and appreciate our kids’ costumes and hardly anyone there has to ask who they are–they recognize them without needing explanations! It makes the kids happy and this year it made me super thrilled because I was so tickled by my tiny Malfoy that I loved having him appreciated by all the college students!

IMG_8861The boys carved really good pumpkins this year and Alaina had the mummy pumpkin:

IMG_8838Childbirth educators will enjoy knowing that Halloween clearance can be used for CBE teaching aids in this post from Science and Sensibility: Brilliant Activities for Birth Educators: Trick or Treat – Halloween Spoils Make Great Teaching Aids
Stacie BABE3 Two other tangentially related Halloween posts that I usually share around this time of year are:

What Really Scares Me: Social Attitudes Towards Women | Talk Birth

Fears About Birth and Losing Control | Talk Birth

 

Pumpkin Goddess Giveaway! (+ Baby Draco Malfoy)

pumpkingoddess Announcing…The Great Pumpkin Goddess giveaway! In honor of Tanner’s first birthday on October 30th, we’re giving away this trio of birth goddesses in shades of fall. Enter the giveaway on Facebook or on Instagram.

It is hard to believe that this time last year I was one day away from my due date and now, look at this…

12185287_10208075671679579_677535692079486418_oDraco Malfoy as a baby.

With that blonde hair, we simply could not resist.

Next up on the agenda, finish putting together his birth video! I really, really, really want to be able to post it on his birthday!

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Celebrating World Breastfeeding Week!

August 2015 043It is World Breastfeeding Week and we’ve been busy supporting celebratory events around the country. We donated nursing mama sculptures to the World Breastfeeding Week picnic in Springfield, MO and to two LLL Leader workshops, one in NY and one in Tennessee. Today, we donated a birth sculpture and 4o goodie packets to the upcoming Women in the Wild photo shoot in Kansas City and we also mailed a spiral mama sculpture and 20 goodie packets to a Live, Love, Latch event in Portland, TN.

August 2015 068Is there a Live, Love, Latch event near you? Check it out here: Events – Live, Love, Latch!

On August 22, we’ll be giving away some goodies at MamaFest in Rolla, which is also registered as a Live, Love, Latch event.

What is MamaFest?

 It’s a celebration! A celebration of women, of community organizations that serve women, of women-owned/women-oriented businesses. We want you to come visit the vendors, have some refreshments, visit with your friends on the couch, and take home awareness of what your community has to offer YOU.

(Men and children are welcome to attend!)

via MamaFest 2015.

I’m particularly excited about the Women in the Wild event. This article about the effort really brings home why it matters:

…The women behind this photo would like to shift the paradigm, to change the narrative of shame that is inflicted upon mothers. They would like to celebrate the bodies of mothers, with all of their glorious imperfections, because they are strong, and beautiful. Mother of one, Jacklyn Kosakowski, shared: ”When the opportunity came up to take this photo, I honestly wasn’t doing it for others. I did it for myself. My changing body during pregnancy was difficult for me, and especially afterwards was hard. I’m at a good place with myself and I have just recently began to appreciate my stretch marks and mommy belly. This body carried and nourished my baby for nine months and pushed for four hours just to meet her, so I should be proud of this body. To just be out in the open, half naked, with other beautiful mothers was such an amazing feeling. There was no judgement, we all looked beautiful.”

via The Shame Game » Erin White Photography.

You can also visit Erin White Photography on Facebook for more information and beautiful, inspiring photos.

The theme of the 2015 World Breastfeeding Week is: “Let’s Make it Work” and it focuses on mothers combining breastfeeding and employment.

The WBW 2015 theme on working women and breastfeeding revisits the 1993 WBW campaign on the Mother-Friendly Workplace Initiative. Much has been achieved in 22 years of global action supporting women in combining breastfeeding and work, particularly the adoption of the revised ILO Convention 183 on Maternity Protection with much stronger maternity entitlements, and more country actions on improving national laws and practices. At the workplace level, we have also seen more actions taken to set up breastfeeding or mother-friendly workplaces including awards for breastfeeding-friendly employers, as well as greater mass awareness on working women’s rights to breastfeed.

via World Breastfeeding Week 2015.

WHO_BreastfeedingWeek2015_EN4Images for the 2015 theme of “Let’s Make it Work” are available here: WHO | World Breastfeeding Week.

Why does the support of employers matter to breastfeeding women? It matters immensely. Women and their babies don’t exist in isolation, they are nestled within larger systems that can either help make or break the breastfeeding relationship:

“Governments and commercial companies will ‘invest’ billions in expensive new technology: roads, bridges, airports, dams or power generation plants, ‘for the good of society’. They may even ‘invest’ in schools and hospitals, but the crucial primary investment in the emotional, physical and mental health of all humans, which breastfeeding and mothering provide, is invisible.”

—Gabrielle Palmer (The Politics of Breastfeeding, p. 333)

via Breastfeeding as an Ecofeminist Issue: Collage Project | Talk Birth.

Seriously. This is why World Breastfeeding Week matters. It isn’t just about breastfeeding memes and platitudes, it is about systemic change in the US and around the world.

I was interested by this story about an Argentinian politician and her baby breastfeeding at work:

…We’re having a moment here when it comes to the cultural conversation surround public breastfeeding. When we talk about women balancing work and childcare, part of what we’re talking about is women living in a world that makes it difficult to care for their children while simultaneously managing the rest of their lives. It’s not that it’s physically impossible to care for a baby while going about one’s day, it’s that we live in a world in which women are shamed for things like breastfeeding in public.

via Why it’s important that this Argentinian politician was breastfeeding her baby on the job – Page 2 of 2.

August 2015 060…We are mammals because as a species we nurse our young. This is a fundamental tie between the women of our time and place and the women of all other times and places as well as between the female members of every mammal species that have ever lived. It is our root tie to the planet, to the cycles of life, and to mammal life on earth. It is precisely this connection to the physical, the earthy, the material, the mundane, the body, that breastfeeding challenges men, feminists, and society.

Breastfeeding is a feminist issue and a fundamental women’s issue. And, it is an issue deeply embedded in a sociocultural context. Attitudes towards breastfeeding are intimately entwined with attitudes toward women, women’s bodies, and who has “ownership” of them. Patriarchy chafes at a woman having the audacity to feed her child with her own body, under her own authority, and without the need for any other. Feminism sometimes chafes at the “control” over the woman’s body exerted by the breastfeeding infant…

via Breastfeeding as an Ecofeminist Issue | Talk Birth.

Past World Breastfeeding Week posts:

 Sign up for the Brigid’s Grove Newsletter for resources, monthly freebies, + art and workshop announcements.

And, as is our tradition, in honor of WBW and National Breastfeeding Month, you can get 10% off items in our shop throughout August: WBW10OFF.

Winter Solstice Meditation

When the wheel of the year turns towards fall, I always feel the call to retreat, to cocoon, to pull away. I also feel the urge for fall de-cluttering—my eyes cast about the house for things to unload, get rid of, to cast away. I also search my calendar for those things which can be eliminated, trimmed down, cut back on. I think it is the inexorable approach of the winter holiday season that prompts this desire to withdraw, as well as the natural rhythm of the earth which so clearly says: let things go, it is time to hibernate.

Late autumn and the shift toward winter is a time of discernment. A time to choose. A time to notice that which has not made it through the summer’s heat and thus needs to be pruned away. In this time of the year, we both recognize the harvest of our labors and that which needs to be released or even sacrificed as we sense the promise of the new year to come.

This year I cocoon with my new baby. Though I have three other children, this new baby was the first child whose December 2014 106development and arrival perfectly mirrored the wheel of the year. Conceived during the first month of the new year, taking root in the darkness of winter’s end, beginning to bud during the springtime and coming into full bloom during the summer. And, then, with the season’s spiral turn into fall, when many beautiful things are harvested, his birth: October 30, into my welcoming hands in the sunlight bright morning in my living room. Now, with the steady progress   of winter, we curl together in a small, new world. We cocoon in the cave of our own home, the size of the world re-sized to the size of my bed, kitchen table, and rocking chair. This is the fourth trimester, the time in which the baby continues to develop his nervous system and continues to live within the context of the mother’s body. I am his habitat. His place. His home is in my arms.

This sinking in, this cocooning, this safe, small world is perfect for the call of winter. While my to-do list has again begun to clang in my ear and the clamor of my other children surrounds me, the early nights, cold temperatures, and gray skies, remind me to nestle, remember, and grow. Beautiful magic takes root in dark, deep places.

Winter solstice.
Deep, long, dark night.
Cold cracks
brittle branches, December 2014 004
icy stone.

Winter’s song
echoes in skeletal treetops
and crackling leaves.
Rest time.
Hibernation.
Silent watchfulness.
Waiting hope.

Sink down.
Open up.
Receive and feel.
Hold peace.

May you enjoy a rich, peaceful solstice with your family and loved ones! May you be blessed by light and may you find wisdom and solace in dark, deep, places. And, may you remember not to be so distracted by the promise of the light to come that you forget the great value to be found in quiet places and deep spaces as well.

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Year in Review (according to Facebook anyway!)

From Facebook’s year in review feature, here were my top 20 moments of 2013. Some of them are pretty right on, others are unintentionally hilarious…

January

Working on her own birthday cake!

Photo: Working on her own birthday cake! :)

February

15 years ago today, my sweetie asked me to marry him! I love the life, home, and family we’ve built together.Photo: 15 years ago today, my sweetie asked me to marry him! I love the life, home, and family we've built together, Mark Remer! <3

March

Today marks my eighth anniversary as an LLL Leader and it feels fitting that this month LLL of Rolla welcomed a new Leader! I never thought I’d see the day when we actually had THREE co-Leaders here in town. I’m so excited! When I began, I didn’t how long I’d keep doing it and I’ve had a lot of discouraging rough patches where I felt like giving up, but now I suspect I might end up as a “lifer.” I’ve logged over 1200 contacts since my accreditation, I’ve learned so much from the mothers I’ve worked with, and I continue learning new things all the time. I’d hoped to have a chance to finish a blog post today in honor of the occasion, but I’m bogged down with end of the session work instead. So, here’s to all the amazing women I’ve had a chance to meet, help, become friends with, and learn from!

(really close to 2000 contacts since accreditation now)

March

I was asked to be a permanent contributor on the Feminism and Religion blog and I feel pretty proud of myself about that.

March

My blog hit 400,000 hits today and my FB page hit 1700 “fans” (up from just 1300 in November!) Those both make me happy.

(now almost 600,000 and 2200)

(not sure why so many “big events” for March)

April 5

At Columbia College Main Campus for a faculty conference. Had to get a photo by iconic Rogers Gate in front of St. Clair Hall to post in my class!

Photo: At Columbia College Main Campus for a faculty conference. Had to get a photo by iconic Rogers Gate in front of St. Clair Hall to post in my class! :)

April

First day of Shannondale Craft Camp felt like a success! We did it anyway.

(this was immediately after my grandma died. It is an event we work all year on and we proceeded with it anyway, while my mom was still in California)

April 29
Today, Alaina went to the Dr for the first time ever to have a pre-op checkup (for her tooth work on May 14). When we left, she kept repeating the doctor’s verdict over and over and it was adorable! 🙂 (click for video via FB)


May 

Happy Mother’s Day!
Photo: Happy Mother's Day! :)

(this one is only hilarious if you know how hard we had to work to prop up my iphone to take this picture! This was actually taken after our small family home memorial service for my grandma before we went to California for the large one)

May 

I guess it wasn’t so “little” of a story about my class–just found out it was front page news! The Columbia College PR rep also emailed me about it!

June
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June

Woohoo! Now, THAT’S what I’m talking about. Tonight’s wild raspberry adventure was pretty productive!
Photo: Woohoo! Now, THAT'S what I'm talking about. Tonight's wild raspberry adventure was pretty productive!

July
Not sure what exactly I’m thinking after our big CA trip this year, but I just booked a room for a mini-vacation to Arcadia for our 15th wedding anniversary on the 25th! The last time we went to Elephant Rocks was when I was pregnant with Lann–time to go back and this time bring THREE kids with us! Rather than go with a chain motel, I reserved a “third floor apartment” at the historical Arcadia Academy. I think it is going to be super fun!

July 

Fifteen years ago today we got married in the rain! Today, we got home from our mini vacation to Elephant Rocks and Johnson Shut Ins.
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August 

December 2013 043

Screen shot just from this weekend. 😉

After 18 years with Mark and almost ten years of boy-momming, they’ve finally rubbed off on me–just now I danced around the kitchen in genuine triumph and excitement because I beat Nerezza the Assassin in Knights and Dragons. ;-D

(side note: Facebook is correct that this was a pivotal life event, because I’m still playing this game—indeed, I’m over level 100 now and the Guild Master of my guild!)

October

Lann’s bday choices courtesy of Skyler, Jenny, Shasta, and Sean arrived this afternoon! A small cotton candy machine and a blue morph suit (for making movies and using himself as a blue screen). We’ve made cotton candy with Werther’s and peppermints so far!

Photo: Lann's bday choices courtesy of Skyler, Jenny, Shasta, and Sean arrived this afternoon! A small cotton candy machine and a blue morph suit (for making movies and using himself as a blue screen). We've made cotton candy with Werther's and peppermints so far! :)

October

Zander is a playdough master!
Photo: Zander is a playdough master!
November

We’ve spent ALL day on a major household reorganizing project converting our extra bedroom into Alaina’s room!!!
Photo: We've spent ALL day on a major household reorganizing project converting our extra bedroom into Alaina's room!!! :)
November

All my kids skated for the first time ever at playgroup at the skating rink today! (We’ve been going to said rink for playgroup once a month for about 7 years, so this is a big deal!)

Photo: All my kids skated for the first time ever at playgroup at the skating rink today! (We've been going to said rink for playgroup once a month for about 7 years, so this is a big deal!)

(they all got skates for Christmas and skate all over the house now)

November

My sister already outed my Thanksgiving shame, so I might as well too. Several hours in to our family gathering yesterday, I noticed my shirt was on backwards. (The “shame” being that Mark had already expressed puzzlement over me having had my pj shirt on backwards on two different occasions this week and also gone to class with inside-out undies on.) Then, as I was switching the shirt around in prep for family photo op, she came running in to show me…the tag sticking out of the front of her own shirt! What would Thanksgiving be without an opportunity for fun family ridicule as well as thanks?! ;-D

(this moment making the final slot on my FB “top 20 moments from 2013” auto-generated list was the icing on my shame-cake!)

It is funny to me how many of these moments did not make it into blog posts and for that I feel grateful for Facebook (I guess). I’m a personal archivist at heart. I love the opportunity to remember, to not forget things, and to capture slices of my life and world.

I also wanted to mention the cool video slideshow year-end tribute that our friends made of all of our work party projects over the past two years. Pretty incredible: Work Party Tribute | Our Hand-Built Home.

(clicking the screengrab below should take you to the video too)

None of our pewter-casting pix or updates made FB’s list, but that was a pretty great part of 2013. My husband quit his regular job in July and we’ve been enjoying our home-based life ever since. Our sculpture and pewter-casting collaboration has been very fun and rewarding. This year as a whole has been a creativity-rich one.

Notably absent from my FB moments too are any mentions of my own classes (either those I teach or take) or of the women’s rituals/ceremonies I priestessed (I guess because that concentrates in my other blog) or birth-related stuff in general (because that’s all on this blog).

And, on Thanksgiving this year my brother and his wife announced that they’re having a baby! This is probably the best moment of 2013! More about this soon…

Happy New Year!

Oh, and after getting this post ready and scheduled, I got a year-end summary from WordPress also…

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The Louvre Museum has 8.5 million visitors per year. This blog was viewed about 220,000 times in 2013. If it were an exhibit at the Louvre Museum, it would take about 9 days for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Thesis Tidbits: Mary Christmas

Mary Goddess with child Paola Suarez sm

Mary and Child painting by blogging friend Paola Suarez

“…When I say painless, please understand, I don’t mean you will not feel anything. What you will feel is a lot of pressure; you will feel the might of creation move through you…”

– Giuditta Tornetta in Painless Childbirth

I am outsider to Catholicism and other branches of Christianity, but I see Mary as an aspect of the sacred feminine that weaves its way through a variety of religious traditions and practices. As a Unitarian Universalist myself, I believe there are many ways to touch the “chord of the sacred” within each of us and that we can find threads of commonality and expression in most religions. Since it is Christmas today, I wanted to share some intriguing excerpts from several different Mary-themed blog posts that touched me this week and that also relate to my dissertation topic of birth as a spiritual experience…

The first is from a birth blogging friend Kelli, who writes with love and tenderness about what the Christmas story can teach us about giving birth:

Another thing that Mary surely understood was that she was specially chosen to bring this new life into the world through the capabilities of her own body alongside that unconstrained power that placed him there in the first place. For birth is about releasing expectations and trusting that you are supported. It is knowing that just by the way your body was designed and grew this life, you are capable of bringing this life forward. In our modern world, what birth is all about hasn’t changed. It isn’t about dreading pain. It isn’t about wondering if “they” will let you do this or that. It isn’t about enduring it until it is over. It isn’t about being afraid and resigning to hope simply for a healthy baby. The child you carry is destined to impact the world. We may not know how, but we can know it is for certain. As the mother of this child, you matter. Mary is revered as holy by many of varying faiths. If giving birth is not sacred work, then what is? Birth, mamas, is about knowing. How this special and amazing child you carry comes into the world matters a great deal. How this child’s mother is revered before, during, and after the process of birth matters a great deal…

via How Can the Christmas Story Teach Us About Birth? – Confluence Mama.

Then, from a pagan blogger from whom I borrowed my post title today, this post about being pregnant with divine potential:

What could be more magical than conceiving, gestating, and giving birth to the embodiment of Christ consciousness?

What could be more magical than birthing the return of light into a darkened world?

What could be more magical than dissolving shame and restoring the brilliant shine to a woman’s life?

For all its shrillness and glitter, the Christmas season offers us images of Mary, big-bellied, pregnant with the Power of Being, however you might name it.

Allowing ourselves to deepen into those images might well dissolve the shame that so often obscures the light imbuing our bodies. Allowing ourselves to resonate with Mary might well unleash the life-celebrating energy already radiating from our bellies, our body’s core…

via Mary Christmas! Being Pregnant with God – PaganSquare.

And, of course, the breastfeeding activist in me thrilled to read this article about Pope Francis supporting public breastfeeding and this juicy, relevant snippet caught my eye about the image of the nursing mother—Mary—as historically symbolic of God’s love:

The cultural shift was so great that even Catholics soon came to regard the breast as an “inappropriate” image for churches. Instead, the sacrifice of the cross – the suffering Jesus – became the dominant motif of Christianity while the Nativity was sanitized into a Hallmark card.

“Ask anybody in the street what’s the primary Christian symbol and they would say the crucifixion,” said Margaret Miles, author of “A Complex Delight: The Secularization of the Breast, 1350-1750,” a book that traces the disappearance of the image of the breast-feeding Mary after the Renaissance.

“It was the takeover of the crucifixion as the major symbol of God’s love for humanity” that supplanted the breast-feeding icon, she said. And that was a decisive shift from the earliest days of Christianity when “the virgin’s nursing breast, the lactating virgin, was the primary symbol of God’s love for humanity…”

via Pope Francis backs public breastfeeding! And that makes him traditional… | Sacred and Profane.

On a related note, I also recently enjoyed seeing a picture on my Facebook feed of one of my birth goddess sculptures standing on shelf next to a Lego Pope and a lovely nativity set.  🙂

Merry (or Mary!) Christmas to you and may we all celebrate the birth of divine potential as we greet the dawning of a new year.

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